Why is there a trend of building new inventions that help the environment?
Well, humans produce. And humans also consume. It’s a cyclical process that propels the world forward. As a species, we continuously build or purchase new inventions to help us be more productive, happier, or simply make our lives easier.
However, to bring these inventions to life, we rely on natural resources, raw materials, and other resources from our environment. And the more we extract from the environment, the more detrimental it is to our planet.
To put it into perspective, if the global population reaches 9.6 billion by 2050, we’d need the equivalent of almost three planets to provide the natural resources needed to maintain our current lifestyles.
Greenhouse gas emissions are projected to drop by six percent in 2020 due to flight and travel restrictions, and economic turmoil caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. However, the United Nations expects emissions to begin rising again as the global economy recovers.
As a global community, it’s impossible for us to ignore the evidence of the negative environmental and health impacts derived from unsustainable production and consumption.
Thankfully, in response to this destructive and downward spiral, we’ve seen an upward trend, a green evolution if you will, in building inventions that help the environment. From biodegradable shopping bags to energy-efficient lightbulbs to electric vehicles, every day we see the short and long-term potential of how eco-friendly products can reverse the harm done on our planet.
What is a Sustainable Invention that Helps the Environment?
Sustainable inventions help the environment and protect our health and well-being. From the second the companies extract raw materials to make the product to the end of the product’s lifecycle, sustainable inventions aim to protect and benefit the environment at every level.
As a leading product development firm that provides product design services, we understand that building a sustainable invention requires careful planning and consideration. This helps ensure that the material selection, manufacturing process, and the amount of energy consumed to make the product are done in a sustainable manner. But without compromising on quality or user experience.
As a result, many sustainable inventions that will help the environment have at least one or more properties below:
- Use less plastic
- Work towards a goal
1. Sustainable Inventions are Recyclable
The product trend of creating recyclable products has been popular for quite some time now. Plastic waste has become a huge issue amongst environmentalists. Especially the buildup of plastics in areas such as parks, beaches, and oceans.
Creating a recyclable product is ideal for sustainable inventions and sustainable product designs. Because it’s important for consumers to know if they ever need to dispose of their product, should it break or is not needed any longer, that it can be disposed of in the safest way possible without negatively affecting the environment.
Using recyclable, bio-degradable, or re-recycled material is a great way to add more convenience to your product. That way, your consumers will be more reassured to know that their product won’t go straight to waste.
2. Sustainable Inventions are Reusable
A huge trend that has created an opportunity for inventors and innovators is creating reusable inventions that help the environment. This helps eliminate single-use products that contribute to huge amounts of waste. Waste that ruins our planet’s environment and causes an excessive amount of trash.
Reusable products have less to do with the material selection, but more about prioritizing longevity, functionality, and durability.
Thinking of innovative ways to create a long-lasting sustainable invention is key to creating a successful re-usable product. Some great examples of how new innovations and inventions that help the environment are metal straws. These reusable straws soared in popularity after recognizing the crisis of plastic straws polluting our environment.
Creating a reusable product is not only a great way to market your product as a “bang for your buck,” but can also be a product that consumers see as a long-term investment. Aim to make a worthwhile product that doesn’t need replacing for an extended period of time.
3. Sustainable Inventions Use Less Plastic
Opting to create a product that doesn’t use plastic at all is one way to create a sustainable invention that will help the environment.
Plastics are one of the leading causes of a large number of environmental issues. The buildup of plastics last forever, never degrade, and release hazardous chemicals into the earth.
Because of this, consumers are looking for better ways to invest in products that won’t harm the planet and decrease the amount of waste they contribute to.
Looking for more ways to create a special appeal to your sustainable product design? Try opting for creating a sustainable invention that does not use plastics and instead, uses materials that won’t harm the environment when properly disposed of.
You can also use materials such as glass or metal. Not only will this result in a higher-quality product, but consumers would also be less likely to throw it out.
4. Sustainable Inventions Work Towards a Goal
Maybe you’ve heard about vertical farming, but have you heard of vertical forests?
These are the types of sustainable inventions that will help the environment by working towards specific goals.
Vertical forests, in particular, fight pollution while providing a livable habitat for other animals. And as the name implies, vertical forests are buildings engulfed with trees and bushes on the terraces.
The results are breathtaking.
Concrete columns covered with dense and lush greenery provide shade and a livable environment for birds and insects. In addition, the plants and trees act as a natural dust filter while absorbing carbon dioxide and output oxygen – even in highly urbanized areas.
Examples Of Sustainable Inventions that Help the Environment
Below are some innovative ways that inventions that help the environment are bending the needle back towards a sustainable future while providing value to customers.
Biodegradable Burial Systems
In the US alone, companies cut down four million acres of hardwood forest annually to bury the deceased. Whether it’s for the land or for the raw materials to build the coffin, putting our loved ones to rest does have an impact on the environment.
Capsula Mundi invented an egg-shaped biodegradable burial pod made with plastics from organic materials. Bodies are positioned in the fetal position and placed in the pod. But how does this invention help the environment? Once buried, a tree grows on top and extracts nutrients from the burial pod.
They also offer smaller biodegradable urns designed to hold the ashes of our loved ones. Like the burial pod, these urns are also egg-shaped and made from biodegradable materials that have a low impact on the environment. These urns break down slowly to naturally allow the ashes to mix with the ground. This helps ensure the very high pH levels of the ash do not interfere with the growth of plants.
While the biodegradable urns are currently available for sale, the burial pods are still in the startup phase.
Compostable Tableware and Cutlery
Every day, it’s estimated that an entire truckload of plastic waste is dumped into the ocean. In fact, it’s expected that the amount of plastic garbage in the seas will triple by 2040.
Plastic cutlery and tableware make up a significant portion of the plastic pollution in our oceans. Cutlery and tableware made with polystyrene are incredibly harmful to the environment as it’s difficult to recycle and likely to end up in landfills.
At first sight, it’s easy to mistake their tableware for works of art. Indeed, these delicate and flowing designs seem like the final piece for an elegant dinner party.
WASARA offers a wide range of products including bowls, cups, plates, platters, trays, and cutlery.
This is an invention that will help the environment because they use a mix of bamboo and bagasse. And because these are 100 percent tree-free, renewable materials, WASARA tableware is fully biodegradable thereby helping reduce the impact to the environment when disposed of.
Not to mention, that means fewer dishes to wash – which is a win for you and for the environment.
Sustainable Toothpaste Tablets
In addition to the one-billion toothpaste bottles that pollute our oceans every year, did you know disposed toothpaste tubes leave harsh chemical residues?
Bite invented a sustainable alternative that reinvents your daily oral-care routine. Their environmentally-friendly solution is called toothpaste bits. Incredibly, these small tablets foam up as normal toothpaste does. Plastic-free and cruelty-free, Bite’s toothpaste bits use clean ingredients free of nasty chemicals.
What’s amazing about Bite’s initiative is its commitment to sustainability at every level of its process. To store the toothpaste bits, they use glass jars that are reusable and recyclable. Refills come in biodegradable and compostable pouches. Even in the packaging, they use kraft envelopes padded with post-consumer recycled newspapers. What about their boxes? Still plastic-free and made from fully recyclable corrugated cardboard sealed with paper tape.
Solar Roof Shingles
Solar shingles are the more aesthetically pleasing, thin, and less bulky counterpart to solar panels.
Both environmentally-friendly inventions perform similar functions. Both absorb the sun’s energy and convert it to electricity. However, solar shingles are much more compact and are designed to work like regular roof shingles. Meaning, these solar shingles won’t just provide electricity, save you money, and help the environment, but these are also durable enough to protect your home from rain, snow, and other weather conditions.
Copper indium gallium selenide is the most common material manufacturers use to build these thin and flexible solar tiles. Higher-end shingles made from monocrystalline silicon, the same material used to make computer chips, result in 15 to 20 percent more efficiency.
Big names like Tesla are already well established in the solar roof shingle industry. Made from quartz, their shingles offer much higher efficiency and durability compared to other materials. In addition, they take care of the end-to-end installation process including removing your existing roof.
As evident in the examples above, we’re capable of building Inventions that help the environment without compromising on aesthetics, user experience, or quality. Whether these inventions are recyclable, reusable, limit the use of plastics, or work towards a goal, what’s important is that we’re producing and consuming products in ways that mitigate the harm we do to the environment.
At MAKO, we see a trend where inventors are inspired to make a difference in the world. Some of our work, like our client’s Festken reusable bottle, helps eliminate the need to bring single-use plastic water bottles to festivals and shows. The Car Generator, invented by our client Jonathan School, is a weatherproof inverter that can hook up to electric vehicles to provide clean backup power when you’re out camping or at your off-grid cottage. But that’s just some of the products we’ve helped develop. If you have a sustainable invention idea that you need help bringing to life or have any other questions about the services we offer, feel free to contact us anytime.
About: MAKO Design + Invent is the original firm providing world-class consumer product development services tailored to startups, small manufacturers, and inventors. Simply put, we are the leading one-stop-shop for developing your physical product from idea to store shelves, all in a high-quality, cost-effective, and timely manner. We operate as one powerhouse 30-person product design team spread across 4 offices to serve you (Austin, Miami, San Francisco, & Toronto). We have full-stack in-house industrial design, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, patent referral, prototyping, and manufacturing services. To assist our startup and inventor clients, in addition to above, we help with business strategy, product strategy, marketing, and sales/distribution for all consumer product categories. Also, our founder Kevin Mako hosts The Product Startup Podcast, the industry's leading hardware podcast. Check it out for tips, interviews, and best practices for hardware startups, inventors, and product developers. Click HERE to learn more about MAKO Design + Invent!